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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case 1476

Posted by michael
from the one-nation-under-allah dept.
Decaffeinated Jedi writes "As reported in this CNN.com article, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next year (most likely in June) involving whether public schools can lead students in a 'voluntary' recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. At issue in this case is whether the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' in the pledge constitutes an establishment of religion on the part of the state and an infringement on students' religious liberty when it is recited in the public school setting. This case comes to the Supreme Court as an appeal of the June 2002 ruling made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--a decision that led to one of the most active stories in Slashdot history." The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness -- "whether schoolchildren can be allowed to recite the Pledge voluntarily" -- is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic. Most states have laws requiring the pledge to be recited every day as a class activity, and these are the laws in question. In theory students shouldn't be punished for failing to recite along with the rest of the class (due to a previous Supreme Court decision). No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.
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Supreme Court Will Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

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  • by supernova87a (532540) <(kepler1) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:34PM (#7213768)
    one interesting development already: Justice Scalia will take no part in the decision of the case. Apparently he recused himself following a request by the anti-pledge side in the case. Scalia has vocally defended the right to religious activity, and I guess he recognized that this might come across as having a predisposition to the outcome of the case.
  • by javelinco (652113) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:38PM (#7213793) Journal
    The current laws on the books state the no student is required to recite the pledge. It does not state that the schools cannot set aside time to recite the pledge. Please be careful to not add any more spin to an already charged issue.
  • by shoemakc (448730) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:39PM (#7213802) Homepage


    MSNBC (Yes I know, I'm too lazy to change my default home page...score one for MS) has this [msnbc.com] article with a little interesting tidbit at the end:

    The phrase "under God" was not part of the original pledge adopted by Congress as a patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress inserted the phrase more than a decade later, in 1954, when the world had moved from hot war to cold.

    Interesting that these contraversial two words where just an addition to seperate us from those "godless commies", no? Sounds on the whole rather silly now :-/

    -Chris

  • Re:Under God is True (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chris Parrinello (1505) * <chrisp@@@chrispy...net> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:57PM (#7213943) Homepage
    This is the typical argument given by groups that argue that placing the Ten Commandments in the judicial building rotunda that the first amendment isn't about separation of church and state. They also misquote James Madison who was architect of the Constitution and a strong opponent of separation of church and state. He was also a proponent of freedom FROM religion:

    Quoted from "James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments":

    "Above all are they to be considered as retaining an "equal title to the free exercise of Religion according to the dictates of Conscience." [Virginia Declaration of Rights, art. 16] Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offence against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered. As the Bill violates equality by subjecting some to peculiar burdens, so it violates the same principle, by granting to others peculiar exemptions. Are the Quakers and Menonists the only sects who think a compulsive support of their Religions unnecessary and unwarrantable? Can their piety alone be entrusted with the care of public worship? Ought their Religions to be endowed above all others with extraordinary privileges by which proselytes may be enticed from all others? We think too favorably of the justice and good sense of these denominations to believe that they either covet pre-eminences over their fellow citizens or that they will be seduced by them from the common opposition to the measure."

    But as always, don't let the facts get in the way of your "history."
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:06PM (#7214019)
    the Pledge of Allegiance will (and should always) continue to include the phrase "under god." NO matter what you do, the original is sitll the original

    That's a fine theory, if not for the fact that that's not the original. The phrase "under God" was added during the 50s as part of McCarthyism's attack on godless communism. So, given that fact, I assume that you will be supporting the return of the Pledge to it's "original" godless version?
  • Re:"under god" (Score:3, Informative)

    by grondu (239962) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:10PM (#7214073)
    America was formed on Christian principles, not Buddhist principles. It is a Christian country and it is defined and based on those assumptions.

    Care to know who disagrees with you?

    From Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, unanamously approved by the U.S. Senate June 7, 1797: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    In his book Religion, State, and the Burger Court, Leo Pfeffer writes about (and quotes) Jefferson: ... Jefferson, who as a careful historian had made a study of the origin of the maxim [that the common law is inextricably linked with Christianity], challenged such an assertion. He noted that "the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or that such a character existed .... What a conspiracy this, between Church and State."

    Separation of church and state was taken seriously by our founding fathers. Gordon S, Wood in The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 writes, "Many of the states [in the period between the Revolution and the adoption of the U. S. Constitution], in order to obviate any suggestion of a religious establishment, prohibited all clergymen from sitting in the legislation." He cites the state constitutions of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.
    ===
  • Re:Under God is True (Score:5, Informative)

    by zenyu (248067) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:14PM (#7214124)
    A nation founded by people seeking to worship God free from persecution.

    Nope, the pilgrims came late to the party. Many of the people who came before them were godless heathens. Even some of the founders weren't to fond of all the god sillyness. Ironically, it was those god worshiping Quakers that fought to make our constitution a secular one. They had been persecuted in New York by Peter Stuyvesant, in part for harboring Jews and Muslims when Stuy went on his witchhunt. When his bosses learned of the episode they told him they established the colony to make money and if he couldn't leave his religion at the door they would replace him. If you told Franklin that a pledge of allegiance was now done in public schools he would spin furiously in his grave.

    BTW I don't like the pledge in schools, but religion isn't even near the main reason. When I came to this country and was told to "pledge allegiance" I didn't even speak the language. That's even more meaningless than your standard enforced pledge. But it's not that either. We live in a democracy, and a pledge of allegiance has no place in a democracy. This is my country and I have a moral duty to help my countrymen destroy the flag and it's government if it does not follow our wishes. The pledge undermines the teaching of that duty. Teaching our children to rule their government is the most important function of our schools.
  • Slashdot FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:24PM (#7214285) Homepage Journal
    The CNN article's emphasis on voluntariness... is grossly misleading, almost propagandistic... Most states have laws requiring the pledge to be recited every day as a class activity

    More Slashdot FUD. Did any of you editors actually go to public school in the US?

    Pledging allegiance was voluntary when I went, thirty years ago. Many students did not pledge. Some were Jehovah Witnesses. Others weren't US citizens. Still others simply chose not to. This wasn't in some "enlightened" urban school, but down in deep rural America.

    The schools may be required in some states to have this activity. But it is not required for any of them to coerce any students into participating.

    No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.

    And no state has a law requiring anyone from reciting it either. If you don't want to say, don't say it. Duh!
  • by DVega (211997) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:37PM (#7214464)
    You can read the history of the Pledge of Allegiance at this page [homeofheroes.com]
  • by Angry Black Man (533969) <vverysmartman@NoSpaM.hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @07:41PM (#7214507) Homepage
    not too mention his statements from the article are totally wrong.

    No state has a law prohibiting anyone from reciting the pledge voluntarily, whenever they want to.

    Uhmm, except that a simple google search on "voluntary school prayer" immediately showed a third result of This case [216.239.37.104]. From the article:

    A 22 word prayer, crafted by the New York State Board of Regents, was read aloud daily in public school classrooms. Student participation was voluntary. On June 25, 1962, the Court ruled the Regents' prayer unconstitutional.

    In a public school, I cannot lead a group prayer, even voluntarily. Prayer must be seperate from the school. Then, following the page a whole three links down, there is full text of a bill urging congress to pass a "voluntary prayer" ammendment to the constitution. From the house resolution [216.239.37.104]:

    32 WHEREAS, voluntary student prayer formed a part of American public schools [33] from their origination in 1642 for over three hundred years afterward, until [34] the U. S. Supreme Court, in a 1962 ruling, which the court said was "without [35] precedent," struck down what it described as "voluntary, nondenominational [36] school prayer";[]=line numbers

    Despite what the all-knowing michael says, evidently after 0 minutes of research, there ARE LAWS AGAINST VOLUNTARY PRAYER. Of course, he says "no state," and since it was ruled unconstitutional, it would actual be the federal government prohibiting it. Yeah, thats what you must have meant, right michael? "no state has a rule against it, just the federal government." sure... how about doing some research before embarassing youreself. Oh, and you ended your sentence with a preposition.
  • by Ickster (639337) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:04PM (#7214733)
    This is a distinction that most people screw up. Of course senators and reps will be able to sing "God Bless America." Supreme Court justices will be able to mention God. Bush will be able to make his decisions based on his faith. however, the Constitution prohibits Congress from codifying "an establishment of religion" as part of this country's law, which is what they did when they added "...under God..." and "In God We Trust" to the pledge and currency. FYI, "In God We trust" was added right about the same time that the Pledge was modified, rather than having been there forever as most people seem to assume.
  • Re:"under god" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dirtside (91468) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:30PM (#7214955) Journal
    You will note that the Constitution, not the Declaration of Independence, is the document our country's law is founded on. Whatever poetic words there are in the Declaration, the Constitution explicitly forbids any establishment of religion. That said, I'll play your game. Here's the Declaration's reference to the "source of our rights":
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    So what's missing? How about a definition for what "their Creator" means? It's plenty simple to assume it means, "the Christian God of the Old or, possibly, New Testament." But there's little reason to do so, as the Declaration doesn't mention Jesus, the Bible, or anything specific about Christianity. Never mind the fact that Jefferson was not a Christian.

    Being familiar with Jefferson's beliefs, it's fairly obvious he's talking about the Deist "God," who is usually described as being the source of the universe, but not taking anything like an active hand. So, once again, exactly which Christian principles is the United States founded upon?

  • Re:Slashdot FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @08:39PM (#7215055)
    "More Slashdot FUD. Did any of you editors actually go to public school in the US?"

    Yes; I graduated High School 1 1/2 years ago.

    "Pledging allegiance was voluntary when I went, thirty years ago."

    And nothing can change over 30 years...

    "And no state has a law requiring anyone from reciting it either."

    Yes, but laws are not the only thing in force here. Perhaps a personal account is in order here. In Elementary School we began each day with the Pledge. Now of course you are taught by your parents that you should obey your teachers, they are in charge when you're at school, etc. Hence when the teacher says "we start each day with the Pledge", we did. Including me. It didn't even occur to me that I might not have to say the Pledge until I had been saying it daily for a couple years. That you're not legally required to say it had no bearing on the matter, and social pressure had everything to bear. So as soon as you find a teacher who starts their first grade class with "OK class, each day we start with the Pledge. Those of you who don't want to say it don't have to due to the 1946 Supreme Court ruling West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette, though" let me know.
  • Re:From my home town (Score:5, Informative)

    by good soldier svejk (571730) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @11:05PM (#7216043)

    It is kind of amusing that people are so worried about offending a very very very small minority of people, so much so that they want to change one of the founding principles that the U.S was built on and is still being built on.

    "Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!" -John Adams

    "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!" -John Adams

    The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained." -Thomas Jefferson

    "No man on earth has less taste or talent for criticism than myself, and the least and last of all should I undertake to criticize works on the Apocalypse (Revelations). It was between fifty and sixty years since I read it and then I considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherence of our own nightly dreams." -Thomas Jefferson

    "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." -James Madison

    "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." -James Madison

    "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." -James Madison

    "And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together." -James Madison

    "That Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words." -Ethan Allen

    "denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian." -Ethan Allen

    As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble." -Benjamin Franklin

    "It is much to be lamented that a man of Franklin's general good character and great influence should have been an

  • Re:Slashdot FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by dvdeug (5033) <dvdeug@@@email...ro> on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @01:22AM (#7216650)
    Pledging allegiance was voluntary when I went, thirty years ago.

    And my sister, who was in school a couple years, was stunned to find it was voluntary, because students who didn't choose to stand were forced to. (Clark County School District, NV. And yes, you have the right not to stand for the pledge, too.)
  • by Dont tempt me (237205) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @07:13AM (#7217757)
    Quoting the words of others carries a big responsibility. Misquoting misrepresents the ideas of others. Here's a classic example of a misquote:

    John Adams has often been quoted as having said: "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it."

    John Adams did, in fact, write the above words. But if you see those words in context, the meaning changes entirely. Here's the rest of the quotation:

    Twenty times, in the course of my late reading, have I been on the point of breaking out, 'this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!!' But in this exclamation, I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in public company-I mean hell.

    As you can see from this example, context matters!

    Example from: Paul F. Boller, Jr. and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions. Oxford University Press, 198
  • Re:From my home town (Score:3, Informative)

    by good soldier svejk (571730) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @11:03AM (#7219715)

    George Washington -- "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God or the Bible."

    Nonetheless Washington was best described as a Deist. He rarely attended church and refused communion when he did. He declined ministerial attention on his death bed. After his death there was an active propaganda campaign, spearheaded by Rev. Mason Locke Weems, to portray his as a Christian. Many apocryphal (get it, apocryphal :-) ) story's and quotations resulted, including the ridiculous cherry tree business. Washington's religious tolerance was legendary. He banned anti-Catholic Pope Day celebrations in the Continental Army and appointed the Universalist John Murray Chaplain.

    Andrew Jackson -- "That book, sir, is the rock on what our republic rests."

    Umhh...not a founding father. But he was genocidal butcher. Chalk one up for the Christians. Not that Madison and Jefferson were much better, being hypocritical slave owners.

    "My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear." -- Andrew Jackson

    "This is a CHRISTIAN NATION." US Supreme Court Feb 1892 Church of Holy Trinity vs US .

    Wow, that is totally irrelevant.

    "Religion {Christianity} is the basis & foundation of Government."James Madison

    Madison didn't actually say that. [tripod.com]

    "Christianity is the companion of Liberty." Alexis de Tocqueville

    Hardly a founding father. He wasn't even born until 1805. By the time he arrived in the US in 1831 the movement to Christianize America was in full swing.

    John Adams 1813 says: Founding Fathers achieved independence upon the general principles of Christianity.

    It is worth reading this in context. Adams was actually talking about the remarkable diversity of the founding fathers. He specifically includes atheists, anabaptists and agnostics. His reference is to the theoretical original principles of Christianity as distinct from church doctrine.

    "Who composed that Army of fine young Fellows that was then before my Eyes? There were among them, Roman Catholicks, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anababtists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists; and "Protestans qui ne croyent rien ["Protestants who believe nothing"]." Very few however of several of these Species. Nevertheless all Educated in the general Principles of Christianity: and the general Principles of English and American Liberty. Could my Answer be understood, by any candid Reader or Hearer, to recommend, to all the others, the general Principles, Institutions or Systems of Education of the Roman Catholicks? Or those of the Quakers? Or those of the Presbyterians? Or those of the Menonists? Or those of the Methodists? or those of the Moravians? Or those of the Universalists? or those of the Philosophers? No. The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young G

  • Re:From my home town (Score:3, Informative)

    by good soldier svejk (571730) on Wednesday October 15, 2003 @03:51PM (#7222888)
    Damn, I knew I should have includeed citations. The first two are from John Adams' letters to Jefferson. As a poster pointed out the first Adams quote is fragmented and misleading. The full quote is supportive, if critical, of religion,

    Twenty times, in the course of my late Reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible Worlds, if there were no Religion in it." ! ! ! But in this exclamati[on] I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell. So far from believing in the total and universal depravity of human Nature; I believe there is no Individual totally depraved. The mos abandoned Scoundrel that ever existed, never Yet Wholly extinguished his Conscience, and while Conscience remains there is some Religion. Popes, Jesuits and Sorbonists and Inquisitors have some Conscience and some Religion. So had Marius and Sylla, Caesar Cataline and Anthony, an Augustus had not much more, let Virgil and Horace say what they will.

    You can find both of those in The Adams Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, Edited by Lester J. Cappon, University of North Carolina Press (1959, 1987)

    Adams, although not a Christian (in the trinitarian sense of believing Jesus is God) was pretty religious. He vacillated between Deism and Unitarianism. He was adamant about seperation of church and state however, and was angry when the Massachusetts constitutional Convention modified his draft to include Christianity. Seven years later he was vidicated when the citizens of the Commonwealth voted (under referendum) to repeal the Christian clause by a 10-1 margin.

    He later wrote, " "As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" (The Great Quotations, ed. by George Seldes, (Citadel Press) quoting letter by J.A. to F.A. Van der Kamp Dec. 27, 1816 )

    The Jefferson quote on the Gospel of St. John is from a letter to Alexander Smyth. (Thomas Jefferson, An Intimate History by Fawn M. Brodie, p. 453 quoting letter by T.J. to Alexander Smyth Jan. 17, 1825)

    The Jeferson quote on the corruption of Christian doctrine is from the Adams correspondence. (Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim by Alf Mapp Jr., p. 246, quoting letter by T.J. to John Adams July 5, 1814 )

    The first Madison quote is from a letter, (The Madisons by Virginia Moore, p. 43 quoting letter by J.M. to William Bradford April 1, 1774) the other two are from his Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785. [tripod.com]

    You can find the Allen quotes in his treatise Reason, the Only Oracle of Man [infidels.org] of 1784

    The Franklin line comes from a 1790 letter to Ezra Stiles [worldpolicy.org] in which he frankly identifies himself as a Deist.

    The Paine Quote is from his The Age of Reason [wsu.edu]

    Priestly's quip on Franklin is on page 60 of his autobiography.

    In 1831 prominent Episcopal minister Bird Wilson complained that "The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected not a one had professed a belief in Christianity.... "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism." (sermon preached in October, 1831, first sentence quoted in John E. Remsberg, "Six Historic Americans," second sentence quoted in Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, pp. 14-15)

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